That was the instruction from Robert Loest, a nationally known investment adviser and downtown Knoxville resident, who was one of the organizers of the first annual “Strollstice” last night.
More than 50 people gathered at the Market House bell on Market Square to pick up candles and parade through Market Square, down Gay Street and other parts of downtown singing Christmas carols.
Loest said the walk was meant to gather together a group of friends and “symbolically banish the darkness for a little while on the longest night of the year.”
“No helmets, insurance or legal release forms required, just friends and neighbors to bring a little more joy to a wonderful downtown in the Christmas season,” Loest explained in his invitation. Loest’s neighbor from the Pembroke condominiums, Charles Finney, assisted him with arrangements.
Father Joe Ciccone of downtown’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church blessed the candles as they were being lit. Some felt that was a little ironic since the celebration of the solstice is generally thought to be a pagan tradition. “I half expected to see the words to Jim Morrison’s ‘Come on Baby, Light My Fire,'” quipped one non-religious participant as sheets with the words to Christmas carols were being passed out.
The happy spectacle seemed to be successful in accomplishing its intent of generating smiles. “What church are you all from?” asked one woman from a rolled down car window. “No church!” came the reply. “We are just a bunch of friends trying to banish the darkness!”
After the 30-minute walk, everyone scattered to various downtown establishments. We grabbed a snack at the bar of the S&W Grand, a place we are growing quite fond of.
After that, we dashed into the Tennessee Theatre where the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra gave its seventh annual “Swingin’ Christmas” performance. We think orchestra leader Vance Thompson accurately summed up our whole evening when he introduced “A Not So Silent Night.” That’s how our festive downtown Christmas experience was – not so silent! Merry, merry everyone!